Anglican Rev.Craig Dixon says the six-storey A-frame is drawing a lot of attention: "I think people are impressed with the size of the structure in terms of its height. People are very interested in it."
The project is about 3mths behind schedule, and the Anglican Church is $1m short but, with the help of public donations, construction is in full swing: "We've put the concrete pad down and some of the structural steel up. Now there's something on site, people are getting an idea of what it's going to be like."
The temporary cathedral will be about the same size as the nave of the old cathedral in the square, with enough seating for 700. It's being built with dozens of cardboard tubes made from recycled paper. Its Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has made temporary paper structures in Kobe, Turkey, China and Haiti, but his work on the Christchurch cathedral is different. Dixon: "This one is being built as a permanent structure, so it will last 50 years plus." He expects the cathedral will make a significant contribution towards rebuilding the city: "It's going to help the economy. It's also going to give the city somewhere to go for special civic services and special events."
Around 320 of the 120kg tubes, measuring 83cm in diameter and up to 22 metres long, will complete the cathedral - that's about 2km in total! They're remarkably strong yet have the flexibility to make them EQ-resistant. A polycarbonate roof will go over the top of the tubes once they're installed.
Dixon says the cathedral is on schedule for completion in very early April - far more realistic than the Xmas 2012 target, which was overly-optimistically stated early last year.
The new structure is rolling out on the cnr of Hereford and Madras Sts. Christchurch, site of the destroyed St. John's Church at Latimer Square, two blocks to the east of Cathedral Square.